[OPINION] Time To Defuse The “Bomb Squad”

On Wednesday, Fairfield Prep’s boys lacrosse team defeated Staples 11-10 in sudden death overtime, in the state tournament. It was an exciting, hard fought and well-played game.

There was action off the field too. 

More than a dozen readers sent me links to a story that ran in all local Hearst papers — the Westport News, Norwalk Hour and Stamford Advocate — describing actions by the “Bomb Squad,” a longtime Prep fan group.

According to the story, Prep students directed anti-Semitic chants at Staples, held up X-rated signs, and urinated as a group on cars in the parking lot.

Geralyn Brieg is a 20-year resident of Westport. Her son played youth lacrosse here, then 4 years at Staples. Her husband coached in the Westport Youth Lacrosse program for more than 10 years. She sent “06880” this opinion piece about the Bomb Squad.

A lot of us wonder what can be done about the increasing lack of civility,  coarsening of discourse, divisiveness, and racism.

Let’s start in our own backyard.

If you, like me, have sat through one too many sports events over the years forced to listen to the increasingly horrific chants coming out of the mouths of the Fairfield Prep “Bomb Squad,” you were disappointed but not surprised by the Stamford Advocate headline about the “boorish behavior” and anti-Semitic chants at the Staples-Prep lacrosse game.

Earlier this season, Staples lacrosse players wore special shirts at a game honoring the “Sticks for Soldiers” veterans organization.

While I was not there this time, it appeared that no Prep parent, staff or coach put a stop to this.

This would be consistent with what I witnessed watching my son play lacrosse at Staples from 2007 to ’11. Those 4 years include one playoff game in particular, when I witnessed the Bomb Squad single out one of our Jewish players by name, and attack him personally.

Back then, I looked around shocked that no one did anything to end the Bomb Squad’s outrageous behavior. As the product of 12 years of Catholic schools myself, I was confused their behavior was tolerated, outraged as a parent, and yes, embarrassed to be Catholic.

Flash forward to this year when the Bomb Squad’s reported behavior goes well over the line. Prep once again administered a mere boys-will-be boys wrist slap.

Why must we host the “Bomb Squad” here in Westport? If Fairfield Prep lacks the moral conviction to ban this formal or informal group, let’s not sit around helplessly.

I say: Time’s up. Either ban the Bomb Squad from our athletic facilities, or ban Fairfield Prep from athletic contests with Staples until they eliminate it and/or replace it with a cheer squad with proper governance just like other high schools.

I am calling on the athletic director, Board of Education and first selectman to find a solution that welcomes Fairfield Prep, but not its Bomb Squad.

(Click here for a link to the Stamford Advocate story.)

84 responses to “[OPINION] Time To Defuse The “Bomb Squad”

  1. “It’s extremely disappointing behavior. There’s no place for that type of hatred and anti-Semitism today, especially in Fairfield County. We as a community need to be setting a much better example for our kids and I hope that we can have a community conversation about respectful ways to relate to one another. We want to make sure that our kids understand just how hurtful these types of comments are and why they must not be tolerated, ever. These are not the values of Westport, Fairfield or CT.

     

    • Steve Stein

      Hi Mr Kraut

      I have received several political mailings from your campaign for state representative. I was initially confused As to your party affiliation. No where in any of your information does it state that you are running as a Republican.

      I think a lot of politics is local but in all fairness to your prospective constituents you should be making it clear which party you have chosen to represent and which party has chosen you to represent their interests.

      • Mr Stein, Why is Party affiliation relevant to this discussion?

        • Steve Stein

          Is Mr Kraut posting as a private citizen or as a candidate for state office?

          I posted later in this blog that after 10 years of the goon squad- Prep should forfeit to show how seriously they finally take this and to guarantee this won’t happen again.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Steve. Everyone knows your politics and this post is just a continuation. Greg Kraut is a fair and balanced candidate who has posted his republican acceptance speak on social media sites.

        Chosing to do your typical political attack in a post that is so serious and concerning about hatred and anti-Semitism just shows how low you will go.

        • Steve Stein

          Hi Bart- see my short post at the very end for my comment on the Fairfield Prep apology.

          Not sure why you think I am sinking low when I am asking in a public forum why Mr Kraut does not make his party affiliation clear on ALL his political handouts. Is there a proper place and discussion where I shoul properly bring this up? In all truth- I had to look for Mr Kraut’s affiliation after the second mailing.

          Also I have sent two notes to Dan about the lack of clarity.

          And finally- I am a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. I am not a member of either political party and intend to remain an independent voter that doesn’t like to be played by either party.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Steve. Great. Then we can count on your vote for a greg as Westport finally elect a State Rep that will represent Westport’s interests and needs.

            Enough of the commercial, now let’s focus on the disgrace by Fairfield Prep and demand action. ZERO TOLERANCE. Something has bee goni g terribly wrong at this private institution and a good example is the lame response by the Principal.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Steve. Great. Then we can count on your vote for Greg as Westport finally elects a State Rep that will represent Westport’s interests and needs.

            Enough of the commercial, now let’s focus on the disgrace by Fairfield Prep and demand action. ZERO TOLERANCE. Something has been going terribly wrong at this private institution and a good example is the lame response by the Principal. He should have shown his leadership with an appropriate response, but it clearly shows there are real issues inside Fairfield Prep from the top down.

            • Steve Stein

              Hi Bart. I never said who to vote for- just asked for a candidate’s party affiliation. I will not accuse you of sinking low for recommending a Republican candidate for state office when we are dealing with the issue of how to deal with religious disrespect and intolerance

  2. It’s extremely disappointing behavior. There’s no place for that type of hatred and anti-Semitism today, especially in Fairfield County. We as a community need to be setting a much better example for our kids and I hope that we can have a community conversation about respectful ways to relate to one another. We want to make sure that our kids understand just how hurtful these types of comments are and why they must not be tolerated, ever. These are not the values of Westport, Fairfield or CT.

     

  3. Marty Bell

    Outrageous. Have neighbor who is on board of Prep. Will see him this weekend and show him the articles.

  4. David Evans

    As a product of Jesuit education, both at high school and University level, I am horrified by this display of hatred. To make matters worse, there seems to be a healthy dose of adult enabling going on as well. I call on the administration of Fairfield Prep to break this group up, and/or penalize students responsible for these acts.
    Please post any public actions being taken to prevent this from happening again.
    Dave Evans
    Brebeuf Jesuit High School (Indianapolis, IN)
    Georgetown University

  5. Luke Garvey

    As a Westport resident, and the product of 10 years of Jesuit education, I can’t express how angry and embarrassed I am.

    I apologize to all who were exposed to this horrendous behavior, and say definitively that it is contrary to the principles of the Jesuits. Their goal is to produce “Men for others”, not bigotry-spewing privileged trash.

  6. Fred Cantor

    FIFA has taken action against various soccer clubs and their fans when the fans have engaged in shameful behavior such as targeting opposing players with racist or anti-Semitic chants. I was at a Champions League match many years ago in Rome when the Lazio fans started doing that to Thierry Henry of Arsenal. It was shocking; I had never witnessed anything like that.

    So perhaps the FCIAC and/or the CIAC could step in here and investigate—and then make a determination .

  7. Julie Van Norden

    That is absolutely outrageous!! Fairfield Prep and all the parents should be ashamed of themselves. They should be censored by FCIAC and CIAC, and maybe their win should be forfeit.

  8. Jane Guttridge

    I hope we don’t make this a Westport versus Prep issue. I have to say that over 5 years of playing Prep in rugby we have never encountered anything but a great local well mannered and sporting rivalry. I hope someone can approach the right senior leaders at Prep and that together we can all admonish the hateful few that behave in such a way. In this day and age I only hope someone thought to video this awful behavior so that they may be accurately and appropriately shamed.

  9. Tom Orofino

    This is just deplorable. I coached my son and daughters teams many many years ago and witnessed this behavior then. It’s up to the parents to teach their kids citizenship, which is surely not happening.

    What a shame

  10. David J. Loffredo

    Isn’t Fairfield Prep a private school? Not sure the Board of Ed has a role to play, but I guess the First Selectman can take some action. Kids come from all over, would be nice to think it’s not local kids doing this crap.

    Tom Curran is the AD – here’s his email: tcurran@fairfieldprep.org

    Rev. Tom Simiski is the President: tsimisky@fairfieldprep.org

    I’d start with them.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Everyone should contact th President. Send an email. Demand the appropiate response.

      I did.

  11. Dave Eason

    Outrageous behavior indeed. Time for some parents to step up and parent.

  12. Daniel Craig

    As a Fairfield Prep graduate and 3 sport varsity athlete I was disgusted to read about this story. I am older and we never treated opponents with such malice and horrific antisemetic
    Words.

    Awful. Prep needs to grow up. ASAP

  13. Danielle Dobin

    The comments above from Fairfield Prep graduates and others who attended Jesuit and Catholic schools are right on point. The behavior of the “Bomb Squad” and the adults who enable them are completely inconsistent with the values I was taught at Catholic preschool/elementary school and a Jesuit law school. I don’t understand why the Fairfield Prep admin hasn’t reacted in the same way. The Fairfield LAX coach should have stopped the game when he heard this chanting the first time. The Fairfield Prep parents should have demanded these boys stop. The Fairfield Prep LAX players should have stopped and faced the “Bomb Squad” and demanded they stop or leave. I agree with Geralyn completely – if the Bomb Squad isn’t disbanded, Westport should cease all play with Fairfield Prep. What a terrible experience for all of our Staples LAX players and students – to hear and watch this going on and see that the “responsible adults” with the Fairfield players did nothing to stop it. And the kids that urinated on cars should absolutely be arrested.

  14. Dorie Buchman

    This is such a sad story to read. If I were the parent of one of these boys, not only would I be outraged and embarrassed, but I’d highlight the fact to my child that colleges and universities can rescind their acceptances. How stupid can you be?

  15. Hi Dan,

    I just forwarded your post to 1 of Fairfield Preps long time, like very long time, & very significant $$$-donor-bundlers, i.e., They won’t be ok with this and I’m pretty sure they’ll pretty quickly contact the right people at the school about it. The last thing they/that donor-bundler wants to be associated with is prejudice like this.

    &, So sorry for the Westport students and their families who were targets of this, Unreal how anyone could think prejudice is a sign of strength (if anything it’s a sign of real weakness).

    Susan Farley

  16. Jarret Liotta

    Thanks Dan — and Hearst writer Justin Papp — for bringing this to everyone’s attention … It’s downright scary (and just plain sucks!!) … But yet another painful reminder to stay vigilant against all the stupidity infesting America & our half-baked world these days! :-/

  17. Bart Shuldman

    Unreal. The only way to stop is to find the students from Fairfield Prep and have them suspended in the upcoming year. If the student is a senior then stop them from graduating. Stop their attendance at graduation. And finally suspend the team from league play for at least 2 years.

    If there are real consequences to this disgusting behavior then the racism will stop. If the response is a “hand” slap it will never stop.

    It’s now up to our town leaders including the leaders at Staples to demand the punishment. Anything less will be a joke.

  18. Bart Shuldman

    Does anyone have the email address of the Director of the league?

  19. Bill Boyd (Staples '66)

    I wrote elsewhere online that the refs should have called time out…warned the Prep bench if it continued the game would be called and Prep forfeits the game. That would stop it, I hope. Same approach in the future.
    Meanwhile, wouldn’t it show some character if Prep relinquished their tainted victory. ( Yeah, I’m that much of a dreamer).

    • Bart Shuldman

      Bill. When does racism stop? Is giving up the win make this better? Is that going to stop someone from thinking this is acceptable? Or should real consequences end the thought?

      Can we ever end racism and hatred if the answer is you lose a game? Or does it end when tough consequences are enacted to make the next person think twice and realize it is unacceptable?

    • Megan Acquino Slingo

      The refs have the capacity to have fans, parents and coaches removed. My daughter plays Lacrosse at Masuk ,and there is always a marshall at the field who is a school employee…I have seen refs stop a game, signal to the marshall, and escort the parent out….Why was this not the case at the game? I have so many other questions about this whole situation….it was preventable, and it seems that there was a failure to act on many levels here.

      • Elina Lublinsky

        I agree entirely vand wonder the same thing – where were the adults as this was going on? Any adults?

  20. Joshua Prince

    While the appropriately mortified note from an obviously decent Fairfield Prep graduate is heartening, what’s most disappointing is the total silence from current parents, students, and faculty of the school. Not a word. Nothing. Neither here, nor in the comments section of the Fairfield Citizen Online, where the incident was also reported: https://m.fairfieldcitizenonline.com/news/articleComments/Anti-Semitism-boorish-behavior-from-fans-12961118.php

    You’d think someone from the school’s community would want to would step up, acknowledge what happened, and apologize or disavow the behavior. Instead, the sole action seems to have been a letter from Fairfield Prep’s principal…to parents from his own school?

    • Geralyn Breig

      This was posted on the Fairfield-Westport Community FB page which has a thread over 160 comments long on this subject:
      As a parent of two Prep students, one of whom is graduating tomorrow but was not at the game, I am embarrassed and appalled at the boys behavior. I also would like to see the school do something other than send a letter home. These boys are smart, educated and do know better. If my son were involved, there would be serious repercussions at home, and I would hope at school as well.

  21. Adam Schwartz '75

    Joshua, you hit it right on the head. Absolutely nothing from the parents, students or faculty is unbelievable! And the fact this has been going on for over 10 years!!! Are you kidding me?!?! 10 years and this “Bomb Squad” is still together?!?! There’s a much, much deeper problem here and I doubt any interaction with current parents or faculty will resolve anything. Where have they been the past 10 years? And think of all the past “Bomb Squad” members who have graduated and believe their actions are acceptable? This is a very disturbing story…

    • Kathleen Rooney

      An official statement was posted on FB by the FP administration, a letter was immediately sent to parents, asking for support of the measures being taken at school to address the behavior, and to investigate and discover the instigators and participants, and all students were addressed in individual classes and as a student body. Parents have commented with sadness, outrage and apology, therefore, while I share that horror, I don’t understand the criticism of Prep’s supposed “silence.” A rush to the press with statements that, in some instances, come from no first-hand knowledge do not help this situation. Should we be outraged? Absolutely. But should our outrage fuel invective and what comes close to a prurient call for vengeance? Absolutely not. Do you not realize the harm you are doing by criticizing and condemning an entire community of young men and the school for which they participate with pride in doing good, by attempting to make them feel shame because of the actions of a few?
      I have a son currently at Prep, and a graduate, both of whom carry the privilege and responsibility of the Prep experience with great pride and dignity, as do the vast majority of young men at Prep. Neither of my sons were there, and I have no personal knowledge of the incidents that occurred, but I am horrified by what I have learned, and saddened and disheartened. I learned of it FROM THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL in his honest and forthright letter. He sought to hide nothing.
      I am not willing to write off as irredeemable teenagers, for the sake of making a point, in this horrendous case, or in the case of the Catholic ridicule which occurs at sporting events, or anti-immigrant chants which occur or any other bigoted behavior. It is all intolerable, and one does not justify another, but to blame one institution alone is to intentionally blind oneself to the true root of the problem. We should be seeking to use all of these situations to transform young people’s hearts before they are hardened. Fairfield Prep teaches in the great Jesuit tradition to be men for others, and in so doing to fulfill one’s highest human potential. It is not hiding from the failure to reach some of its members with that message, or its duty and imperative to remedy it, but no institution is perfect. We should all have the courage to look in our own mirrors with honestly and not rush to condemnation of a school that has served its students and its community honorably and justly, and continues, in the vast majority of cases, to imbue the very message and mission so necessary to the world today.

  22. My family has a long running history with Fairfield Prep. My father, brothers, nephew, uncles and cousins have all attended the school. My husband, who happens to be Jewish and I have supported my family’s scholarship at the school for many years in hopes of giving a deserving boy help toward a better learning environment. I, myself attended all catholic schools, elementary and high school and even graduated from a women’s Catholic college. It was drilled into us from the very beginning by nuns, priests and lay teachers that love, kindness, tolerance, acceptance and compassion where tantamount to leading a truly Christian life. Exactly what is taught in the Jewish faith, incidentally! The sad and pathetic actions of the students, coaches, administrators, and attending Prep parents at the Staples match can not be swept under the rug and absolved by the wave of a Jesuits godly hand. Oh No! The “Boys will be Boys” days are Over! I’m ashamed to be a Catholic, I’m ashamed to have supported Prep and will never again send another penny to such a bigoted, hypocritical, institution that doesn’t instill and expect the basics of human civility from the students and the school community as a whole. I hope, and yes, pray that Holy Mother Church and the Society of Jesus realize they have lost their way. Shame on you all!

    Sincerely,
    Susan Stephanak Bell

    • Bart Shuldman

      Susan-thank you. Holding back financial support should be done by everyone until this school admits to their problem and enacts serious reforms. The ‘headmaster’ should step down or demanded to resign as he seems to want to sweep this away instead of dealing with it head on.

  23. Manny Romero

    I blame Trump and the adults in these boys’ lives for emboldening such behavior

    • Elina Lublinsky

      Trump has been a president for a very short time. You really truly think that these kids learned how to be ani-semis since he was elected? You really think they were unfamiliar with the concept before? It doesn’t pay being so naive about the situation. If the incident happened several years ago (and apparently there was one), whom would you blame then?
      This always, ALWAYS, starts at home/school/friends. It’s evident, that none of these kids have an idea what taking a responsibility means and it clearly is not taught at the school. Just look at the “appology” made by the school authority – it a joke. They could not even bring themselves up to utter the word “anti-Semitic”. They make sure to mention “diversity, inclusiveness”, but not THAT word.
      It’s easy to blame Trump for anything and everything.
      Not this time.

  24. Unfortunately, there has always been bigotry, but much of it was hidden and private. The current political atmosphere has brought it out into the open. When the president utters bigoted statements, many people find it acceptable and join in.

  25. Joshhua Prince

    Thank you Ms. Breig, and congratulations on today’s graduation…hope what should be a great and positive day isn’t tarnished by this. BTW, searched both the “Fairfield & Westport Parents” and “Westport & Fairfield Parents” FB community pages, and could only find one post with 4 comments. Is it another FB community?

    • Geralyn Breig

      Joshua, to be clear, I was quoting another mother. My children are Staples grads. The FB page is called Westport/Fairfield Community. It is a private page that I was recently invited to. If you FB message me, I can invite you.

  26. Warren Shapiro

    Dan, this is very upsetting. It represents Fairfield Prep is a very unflattering light, to say the least. I forwarded your blog to the President of FFLD Prep, Father Tom Simisky. I was unable to find his email address on their website but I was able to guess that it is his first initial followed by his last name @fairfieldprep.org. I hope he gets it. But based on many of the comments here, I’m sure that this information will get to him. What is most disturbing is that this is apparently not the first incident. I genuinely hope that Father Simisky and the board of directors there get on this immediately and aggressively. This diminishes us all.

  27. “We are responsible… to respond. It is not merely a question of analyzing the causes of violence and refuting (anti-Semiticism’s) perverse logic, but of being actively prepared to respond…”
    Pope Francis
    January 29, 2018

  28. Lisa Newman

    As a former Darien HS varsity coach, I recall being at games versus New Canaan that were highly heated as the two schools were rivals. The administration of both schools let the students know ahead of time that anything beyond an acceptable level or tone of chanting would be handled swiftly and seriously. Principal and administration would attend games where this rivalry was anticipated and remove students as needed. It was not a perfect system; at times things still escalated, but it helped. As a coach, if I had EVER seen or heard the behavior described here – from ANY of the Darien athletes whether on my team or not (we were one big athletic department) – I myself would have stepped up and either removed my own athletes from the situation or confronted the other school and refs immediately.

    I’m troubled by this entire incident on many levels. But I’m equally troubled by the adults on both sides who didn’t stand up for our Staples athletes and halt the game until the bomb squad offenders were removed. The adults on every level failed our players. As adults and parents, we need to not only set the example for what not to do but what TO DO in defense of others. In this day and age we teach our children to stand up for the bullied – that standing by idly is not okay. That they should speak up on behalf of their peers. We need to not only model good sportsmanship but we also need to model standing up for what is right.

    We should, as a community, determine what a collective response to these acts should be in the future – in the moment. The game should have been halted. Perhaps some constructive discussion on a group, community response to these types of incidents is a next step to advocate for ourselves and our community on what will NOT be tolerated here. I know a game can be halted until the offending fans are removed. It need not be a forfeit. But some action to stop this *in progress* should have been taken. A future protocol is necessary. We likely can’t prevent despicable behavior from every teenager, but we can react in a way that sends the message it won’t be allowed here in Westport; that we will remove you.

    Sadly, there is hate in the world. And when exposed to hate, our children need to see that the adults around them will be their advocates. And in turn, they will learn to advocate for others. Let’s all raise advocates with strong voices by BEING the advocates with strong voices that we all already are.

  29. Karl Decker

    I am in the third chapter of Philip Roth’s “The Plot to Destroy America.” In this most prescient and frightening novel, Charles Lindbergh, America Firster and Hitler apologist, has been elected president, ousting a second term FDR. Anti-Semitism grows unchecked if not encouraged by Lindbergh and his followers.

    The Roth family, visiting Washington, DC to admire our heritage, is told their hotel reservation had been “through a most unfortunate mistake” cancelled, they are subject to taunts as “loudmouth Jews” in a restaurant…and in a fleeting moment of embarrassing and inexplicable naivety I thought, “Doesn’t happen here any more…” And then I read about the Bomb Squad and the game at Staples in the local morning paper. And we’ll set aside for now what I read in the Washington and national papers this morning…

    • Peter Gambaccini

      If Fairfield Prep is indeed not an FCIAC, Staples should cancel its lacrosse rivalry with the school and make clear why they’re doing do. From what I read, this has been going on far too long.

  30. Ms. Rooney. I am sorry you feel that the Principal’s letter was “honest and forthright”. Frankly, in my opinion, it fell FAR short of that. Failure to say the words “anti-semitic” demonstrates that this was a mere tap on the wrist and nothing but platitudes. No one should have to request an apology. At a minimum, with this letter to the Prep community should have been a letter to Staples AD, Varsity Coach, Varsity players and especially the Jewish players apologizing for the atrocious behavior. This is a complete failure at every level, most especially at the Jesuit level. “Men for others”, clearly they were not that day and, it seems, have not been for some time. The “bad apples” are growing in number. That is certainly hurtful and harmful to the “good apples” like your boys and my husband (a Prep graduate). This is why it is so important that the leaders of the Prep community publicly apologize and explain what the ramifications will be and explain how they plan to address this issue. Their silence is only making the community more upset and more disappointed in an institution that should be doing it better than everyone else. They way to solve a problem is to get out in front of it, with honesty and integrity. Sadly, failure to do so is an epic fail by the “powers that be” at Prep.

    • Steve Stein

      If this has been going on for ten years- thank you Fairfield Prepvfor the apology- now forfeit the game. Guarantee that this will not happen again in the future and shows that the Prep administration means what they apologized for in no uncertain terms.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Forfeit the game? Really? How about suspending the students that performed the acts of hatred and racism.

        • Steve Stein

          Hi Bart. Thanks- but I thought that went without saying! In this situation the students involved and the school that allowed it to go on for 10 years should be responsible. Just my humble independent opinion

    • Kathleen Rooney

      Please read Father Simisky’s words and understand the immense pride my family has in this school. If this is not enough, nothing is.
      Please realize that real harm is also being done to upstanding young men at Fairfield Prep who personally had nothing to do with this incident, by defaming their entire school community and the leaders in whom they place their trust. If what is truly being sought is reconciliation and transformation, we need to also treat the students at Fairfield Prep with dignity and respect. Father Simisky’s words, in which he takes full responsibility and offers apology, proactively chart a course to reconciliation and the creation of a more just community. I don’t see how any reasonable person with a genuine desire for a positive outcome can reject this as inadequate.

      Dear Fairfield Prep Community,

      We congratulate the Class of 2018 on their graduation day. At the same time, we are continuing to address a most serious recent incident to ensure nothing like this occurs again at a Prep event. Our unfolding response, disciplinary and educational, is part of a much larger conversation that will continue throughout the coming year.

      Here is an excerpt from my address at this morning’s commencement:

      “President Nemec, Members of Prep’s Board of Governors, Dr. Perrotta, Prep administration, faculty and staff, parents, friends, members of the Class of 2018, and members of the Golden Class of 1968. It is a pleasure for me to be here to award these diplomas in honor of your hard work and faithful dedication.

      However, there is something very important and painful that we must first bring to light. You probably saw the headlines about the behavior of some Fairfield Prep fans during Wednesday’s lacrosse game at Staples High School, involving anti-Semitic chants and obscene gestures. I will not attempt to infer motives of those involved, whether these actions were intended to be hateful, ignorant, or otherwise. The results are the same – hurtful, divisive, and insidiously harmful to all that is good in the world.

      I cannot tell you how disappointed and upset I was to learn of this, especially given our many initiatives this year to address race, equity, and inclusion issues. This school year began shortly after the tragedy of Charlottesville. I was the speaker at your Senior Retreat in August, where the theme of my talk was our need to value diversity and fight the evils of racism. Throughout the year, we brought in numerous speakers during community periods to address this topic. We began a new student club called REIGNS, which stands for Respect, Education, and Inclusion for Gay and Non-Binary Students. We added faculty professional development days to learn to better address these topics in the classroom, complementing our Safe Space training. We came to appreciate on a deeper level that our SEED diversity program is absolutely fundamental to our mission as a Jesuit school. And you performed countless service hours around the local community to help those most in need.

      So many positive things happened this year to make us a better school. We celebrated many achievements. And yet, one incident overshadows everything and will mark this year.

      But you say, “I wasn’t there. I didn’t do anything. Punish those who were there.” We were all there. That’s what representing your school means, it means we are all there. Any time one person wears an FP, we are all there. Before we send you off into the world as Fairfield Prep alumni, talking about the Prep Brotherhood, you need to know what that truly means. We all win together or we all lose together. Last Wednesday, our lacrosse team advanced, but we as a whole experienced a collective, self-inflicted loss.
      It was a loss in many ways. That a few students led such cheers was a loss. That more students followed their lead was a loss. That no one stopped this behavior was unthinkable. Student government leaders were there, team captains were there, seniors were there, Prep students from all years were there. Why did no student stand up for what was right, for what we teach?

      As the President of Fairfield Prep, I take responsibility for our collective failure. We as administrators did not provide adequate supervision at a sporting event. But this goes beyond prefecting. In the end, we failed to live out the values we profess. That such behavior could even seem like a good idea to some and that no one would intervene indicates a larger cultural issue that we must confront.

      This week, I intend to reach out to local rabbis and the Anti-Defamation League for three reasons: (1) to apologize on behalf of the Fairfield Prep community, (2) to seek reconciliation, and (3) to ask for their guidance and suggestions on how we might learn from this and eradicate the roots of intolerance and hate.

      We will get better as a community. As Dr. Perrotta mentioned in his email to parents, theology teachers will address this incident and the topic of anti-Semitism over these final two days of classes before exams. We will continue to investigate and apply appropriate disciplinary measures. Over the summer, we will plan additional programs to integrate into our curriculum for next year.

      At the end of the day, there is a reason why we are educators – because the world needs education and we truly believe the world can be a better place. Our vision statement reads, “Fairfield College Preparatory School strives to be a reflective community of faith, in which students revere their relationship with God and with one another.” Love the Lord and love one another. That is Jesus’ Greatest Commandment and the basis of the Jewish Shema Prayer. It is the community we must be if we are to be faithful to our Creator.

      Remember, you are good, for God creates only good, and we are all created in God’s image. Yet, the mystery of evil exists. It is real; it is divisive; it is destructive. But it is not the end of the story. We have faith in our Redeemer, and I have faith in you and in what you are capable of. A vision is meant to be aspirational, a future tense. It can only be realized if there is a solid foundation on which to build. Class of 2018, you have that foundation in your loving family, your many talents, and your Jesuit education at Fairfield Prep. You will soon be graduates of Fairfield College Preparatory School. Our prayers go with you as you take on the world’s challenges with intellectual competence, a compassion for others, the conscience to make wise decisions, and a commitment to doing justice. May you be the ones to realize Prep’s vision.”

      May God bless you,

      Rev. Thomas M. Simisky, S.J.
      President

      • Danielle Dobin

        Kathleen – I think Rev Simisky’s response if exactly on point. Thank you very much for sharing it here. He is frank about what occurred and takes ownership for it. In particular, I am encouraged by the fact that Rev Simisky specifically called out the anti-Semitic nature of the chanting and by this part of his speech:

        “But you say, “I wasn’t there. I didn’t do anything. Punish those who were there.” We were all there. That’s what representing your school means, it means we are all there. Any time one person wears an FP, we are all there. Before we send you off into the world as Fairfield Prep alumni, talking about the Prep Brotherhood, you need to know what that truly means. We all win together or we all lose together. Last Wednesday, our lacrosse team advanced, but we as a whole experienced a collective, self-inflicted loss.

        It was a loss in many ways. That a few students led such cheers was a loss. That more students followed their lead was a loss. That no one stopped this behavior was unthinkable. Student government leaders were there, team captains were there, seniors were there, Prep students from all years were there. Why did no student stand up for what was right, for what we teach?

        As the President of Fairfield Prep, I take responsibility for our collective failure. We as administrators did not provide adequate supervision at a sporting event. But this goes beyond prefecting. In the end, we failed to live out the values we profess. That such behavior could even seem like a good idea to some and that no one would intervene indicates a larger cultural issue that we must confront.”

  31. Fred Cantor

    I did a Google search and found one newspaper article showing that there had been punitive action taken against the Bomb Squad some years back.

    The Bomb Squad also is the name of what seems to be a boosters club that operates under the school’s umbrella.

    https://www.ctpost.com/local/article/High-school-notebook-Fairfield-Prep-Bomb-Squad-1016841.php

    https://jesuitpride.com/sports/2017/3/23/bomb-squad-club.aspx
    Sent from my iPad

  32. Fairfield Prep President speaks at their graduation this morning about the incident. Promises to reach out to the ADL and rabbi community. Makes no mention of revisiting the Bomb Squad or apologizing to Westport or the Staples community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6SnYY_R-qk&feature=youtu.be

  33. If the score was 11-10 in your favor… would we even be discussing this right now? #soreloser

  34. Adam Schwartz

    Bob Smith, Are you serious?!?! Bad question.

  35. Fairfield is an amazing town filled with mostly wonderful people. This incident should not influence anyone’s opinion of Fairfield whatsoever. However, this does influence my opinion of Fairfield Prep. They have an opportunity to define themselves here. What they do doesn’t affect me. I’m Jewish, I don’t hate people who are of a different religion than me. I don’t even hate people who hate me, it’s a waste of time. But this tarnishes the school and THEIR traditions. The Westport Rabbis don’t have the answer for you, YOU DO! Don’t worry so much about making things nice for me or Westport hold your kids accountable! Teach them what they need to know, they have displayed their ignorance. TEACH THEM!

  36. Robert O'Connell

    Your story is slanderous, and completely inaccurate. Shame on you, and your agenda to disparage Fairfield Prep. It was Staple students that had an obscene picture taken away, not prep. Staple students with slurs against homosexuals and Catholics. And yes you should be ashamed to be a catholic.

  37. Rachel Goldstein

    I also blame trump and other white racists for this behavior. This is white, Christian, male privelage in a nutshell. Shame on Fairfield prep they ought to shut down their school as it is full of anti Semitic boys.

  38. Marybeth McGee

    If you were not there then how could you possibly comment on this? There is a FB post from a Wesport student that is embarrassing to the school and how their fans behave. It was posted days before the actual game. I have been at many different sporting events for Prep and have heard many many comments about Prep being a bunch of homosexuals etc. things were said to my sons face by fans as he left the playing field and ice rink. This has been going on for years. I don’t condone what the Prep Bomb squad were chanting but the bottom line is there are two sides to every story.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Deflecting from the incident being discussed does no one any favors. The story seem pretty clear from multiple sources: at the lacrosse game, there were anti-Semitic taunts, public urination, and vulgar signs, directed at the Staples player and team. No matter that there is bad behavior elsewhere in the world, this doesn’t excuse this, nor make it any less shocking and unacceptable. There’s a term “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

      • Warren Shapiro

        I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Thibault! No one is saying Westport kids are perfect, that’s absurd. But this incident is about what it is about not about examples of other incidents in the past, allegedly, from Westport kids.

        I commend Reverend Simisky wholeheartedly for his insightful and comprehensive statement. I think he nailed it! I am optimistic that the vast majority of terrific people from FP will work hard to rectify this situation moving forward.

  39. Stephen Kasowitz

    I was enraged to hear about the conduct of Fairfield Prep students during a recent lacrosse game with Staples High School. As a former three sport athlete and captain of the football team at Hopkins Prep in New Haven, I can tell you now that if I or any of my teammates heard the disgraceful chanting that went on at this game I would have led my team off the field and refused to play until the offending participants were removed.

    Why didn’t the coach of Staples lacrosse take action during the game???

    This reminds me of a situation I found myself in as a fifteen year old student at Hopkins, during the late sixties, when our baseball team was down in Florida. We as a team went into a restaurant (our coach was not with us). As I past through the door I heard some talk behind me coming from the manager of the restaurant, directed at a black teammate of mine, saying that he wasn’t allowed in the restaurant. Upon hearing this, I immediately yelled ahead to my teammates, “ We’re out of here!” I also directed some expletives at the manager. We all left, as a team.

    Hateful behavior needs to be addressed swiftly and strongly by all who witness it. The coaches on both teams should have, at the very least, halted play.

  40. what prep did was repulsive and rude, but to the westporters who think their children are pristine and did nothing wrong, listen to the first 10 mins of this podcast. This might be the ONLY news outlet that reported both sides.https://archive.org/details/060418

    • Kathleen Rooney

      Thank you. Two wrongs do not make a right, and no offensive words or behavior – anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. – are justified by anyone else’s. But we do nothing to solve the problem if we only cast stones at others, ultimately bashing and tearing down to the same extent as the behavior we wish to eradicate. There’s more than enough blame to go around, the real issue is how to transform this moment into sonething redemptive in the future.

  41. Stacey Landowne

    Racial tolerance is the bedrock of a thriving learning community. College and university admissions officers should take note of Fairfield Prep applicants touting membership in the “bomb squad” or other sporting fan clubs.

    • What is legal and illegal is important for sure. But legality is the LOWEST standard of conduct that society maintains. Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is necessarily acceptable and we should stand by helpless and idle, and do nothing to correct, educate and change it. This is a school, these were kids, it’s our JOB to work to make this better. It’s not about their words and actions being legal vs. illegal, it’s about it being repugnant and unacceptable. Lastly, public urination is not protected under the first amendment.

  42. Peter Picknelly

    Interesting article attached. Oh yeah, those cameras that caught students urinating in the parking lot, turns out they were Staples students check with Staples Administration. Careful of throwing stones in your glass houses. In essence, every school district is dealing with a variation of the same problem.
    https://www.westport-news.com/news/article/Westport-students-punished-for-offensive-Facebook-10608054.php

    • Fred Cantor

      Peter, I imagine every school/town has student problems it has to deal with. The thing is, according to the article you posted here, Staples administrators took action against the students who engaged in the problematic behavior a couple of years back, What actions are the Fairfield Prep administrators taking to investigate and then discipline the students who were doing those chants at the lacrosse game? I am hopeful they will do the right thing here.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Are you condoning the anti Semitic behavior? Just a yes or not will suffice.

    • Adam Schwartz

      What in the world does this have to do with FP students yelling anti-Semitic chants at the LAX game last weekend? Please dont change the subject to defer attention away from what took place and what this thread is all about. After watching the WCBS story, I’m more upset that any adult at that game didn’t do something. I have college age children and I think back to the days my son played Little League. I can’t imagine not doing something if that happened when I was there. What about the coaches? How could the coaches not stop the game? This was a huge mistake on the part of every adult in attendance.

  43. Elaine Marino

    CBS New York covered the story, and included a short clip of the game where a “We have Christmas” chant can be heard. Coach McNulty and a Staples lacrosse parent are interviewed as well:

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/06/04/anti-semitic-chants-high-school-lacrosse-fairfield-prep-staples-high-school/

    If it is true that Staples students urinated in the parking lot, have the perpetrators been punished?

  44. Margaret Kelleher

    There’s no excuse for what went on at that game. Here is a good follow up article which talks of actions Prep has taken to date, and also provides more context of the events that day and of teen behavior generally.

    https://www.fairfieldcitizenonline.com/news/article/In-wake-of-anti-Semitic-incident-Fairfield-Prep-12976126.php

    • Bart Shuldman

      Just curious, why has Fairfield Prep offered no details on the discipline taken with the students? Has any student been suspended? What discipline are they willing to take? From the article:

      “In letters to parents and the Prep community, Simisky and Perrotta have also promised to discipline those involved accordingly, though they have not offered details and have declined multiple emails and phone requests for comment. Prep’s final day of exams was June 8.”

  45. Bart Shuldman

    Did you know the Fairfield Prep Bomb Squad is more than just a few students who attend their games. The Bomb Squad are the money supporters (parents and alumni) for the sports programs.

    Could the school actually discipline the children of those that are donating? Interesting.

    JOIN THE BOMB SQUAD CLUB

    The Bomb Squad Club strives to support and enhance Fairfield Prep Athletics by securing philanthropic funding that directly impacts Prep Athletics and our mission to deliver a world-class and comprehensive student-athlete experience.

    Your impact?

    You become a member of the Bomb Squad Club when you make a gift to the general athletics fund or to a specific sport. By doing so, you are supporting our student-athletes’ ability to be coached by the best coaches, travel to play a competitive schedule, and have access to the best equipment, uniforms and facilities possible. By supporting a specific sport you join our “Friends Program.” For example, your gift restricted to Football allows you to join the Friends of Football club.